I dragged the kids to GOMA yesterday to catch the 21st C exhibition. It wasn’t easy.
“Southbank?” said Magic Man, “That’s where the museum is. I want to see dinosaurs. Modern art sucks – it’s just stupid splashes of paint.”
Tough critic, that young man – he’s no fan of the new bridge, either. In fact, the first time he saw it he snorted with derision. “What’s that meant to be?”
“It’s a bridge, darling.” I replied, “They’re probably trying to represent sails and rigging from an old fashioned ship.”
“Huh. Modern Art.” He mumbled, intonation dripping with withering scorn.
Elf Boy has no stance on modern art, but expressed a preference to continue chasing spiders in his Grandmother’s backyard. His major objection was to closed footwear, rather than of aesthetics.
“You’ll thank me later.” I snarled. As it happens, the thanks came sooner and often. This free – yes, free! – exhibition is one of the best I’ve seen mounted anywhere.
The kids were entranced by Olafur Eliasson’s Lego installation. A very long table held a fantasy streetscape – think Godzilla, minarets, wacky spirals and more – in white Lego. Piles of loose bricks and low stools encouraged visitors to add their own buildings.
Rivane Neuenschwander’s installation I Wish your Wish was my first stop. Visitors write a wish on a slip of paper, which they can then exchange for a coloured ribbon silk-screened with someone else’s wish. Reading the wishes on the wall had me counting my blessings. Many – I wish I lived in Australia, I wish for a happy healthy baby, I wish I had a nice garden, I wish I had more friends – were already my reality. In the end, I was tempted by a lush purple ribbon reading “I wish I had magical powers”. I’ve tied it around my wrist and according to Brazilian (no, not what you’re thinking, the Latin American country) legend when it falls off, my wish will come true.
Every exhibit was gorgeous, interesting, challenging or amusing. The Australian artists were among my favourites, especially Yvonne Koolmatrie’s basketry and the fish traps made from pandanus by the Maningrida artists. Adults, teens and children all seemed to be having the time of their lives – there was a buzz in the gallery like the charge you get from a good night out. Or used to get, before you (read, “I”) got old and decrepit and preferred to stay in with a good book.
We’re coming back at least once – it ends (too soon!) with the Easter school holidays. Do yourself a favour and view – you’ll get a lovely glow to see your tax dollars – for once – well spent.